May 18, 2006
Cleveland, OH — Clemson freshman Vince Hatfield and David May registered two of Clemson’s top three rounds on Thursday leading the Tigers to a 12 over par 296 team total after the first round of the NCAA Central Regional Golf Tournament at Sand Ridge Golf Club near Cleveland, OH.
The Tigers are tied for 14th after the first round with Kent State, but just four shots off the 10 team cutline. The top 10 teams in the 27-team event will advance to the National Championship Tournament in Sunriver, OR May 30 to June 2.
The Tigers, seeded fourth in the field entering the tournament, struggled in the windy and cool (52 degrees) conditions. Oklahoma State holds the team lead after shooting a four-under-par 280. Oklahoma stands in the important 10th position at eight over par. Six teams, including Clemson and Georgia Tech, are within four shots of the Sooners. Duke, a third ACC team in the Central Regional, had a 286 score and is in fourth place.
Clemson has won the NCAA East Regional seven times previously, more regional championships than any other school in college golf history. This is the first year the Tigers have been sent to the Central Regional after 17 consecutive bids to the East. Last year Clemson failed to move on to the national tournament for the first time since 1981 when it finished two shots off the cut line.
Hatfield’s one over par 72 included three birdies and four bogeys. He was Clemson’s most consistent golfer with nine hole scores of 36-36. He never saw his score go worse than one over par. He birded the 10th hole, his first hole of the day, to get off to a good start. It marked the first time since April 2 that Hatfield recorded the best round of the day by a Clemson golfer. That took place at the Augusta State Invitational when he went on to a seventh place finish for the 54 holes, best among Clemson golfers. Hatfield is the only Tiger in the top 25 individually as he is tied for 25th after the first round.
May, a freshman from Auburn, NY who is accustomed to playing in cool and windy conditions, also had an even par 36 on the back nine, his first nine of the day. He had a team best four birdies for the round, but he did have a double bogey on the eighth hole, his next to last hole of the day. May had nine hole scores of 38-36.
Stephen Poole was Clemson’s second best golfer on the day with a two over par 73. The All-ACC player from Spartanburg who is playing in his third career NCAA regional, had bogies on the 12th and 13th holes, his third and fourth holes of the day, then finished with 14 consecutive pars. Tanner Ervin had a strong first nine with a 37, including a birdie on the difficult par three 17th, but he had a 40 on the front nine, including a double bogey, bogey finish. His 77 ended a streak of nine consecutive rounds at 74 or better.
Brian Duncan, Clemson’s highest ranked player nationally with a #17 rating by the Sagarin/Golfweek rankings, had an 81 on Thursday, tying for his high score of the year. He made a bogey on each of his first three holes, then settled down for the rest of the back nine to shoot 39. He then made a triple bogey on the seventh hole and a double bogey on the eighth, his 17th hole of the day. It marked the first time all year that Duncan’s score did not count towards Clemson’s team score, a streak that covered 28 straight rounds over two years.
Duncan was not the only nationally ranked player who struggled on Thursday. He played with Duke’s Ryan Blaum, the ACC’s Player of the Year each of the last two years. Blaum shot a 78 and his score did not count towards the Blue Devils team score, like Duncan, the first time this year his score was a non-counter.
Clemson will have to come back quickly as the Tigers will join Duke and Texas as the first teams off the first hole Friday morning. Vince Hatfield has the first tee time with a 7:18 AM start. All results can be followed on golfstat.com
Clemson at NCAA Central Regional Sand Ridge Golf Club Cleveland, OH
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